Widespread adoption of EHRs can produce numerous benefits for SNFs, including:
Interoperability with other systems for optimized transitions of care
Reduction in hospital readmissions
Effective management of medications
Ability to view and update health records at the point of care
Enhanced patient outcomes
Realizing all the benefits of an EHR system depends upon careful planning and successful implementation.
Proper Configuration of Your EHR Software
Configuring your EHR software begins with an assessment of your current infrastructure to determine its ability to support the new EHR system. This means taking stock of your devices and physical equipment as well as of your network and its connectivity. Successful implementation relies in part on having adequate machines and internet connection.
Larger organizations with a dedicated IT staff – a necessity when choosing an in-house solution – can depend on their IT staff to assess the age and number of desktop computers and mobile devices and their internet speed to determine adequacy for supporting the new software. Smaller organizations can turn to their software provider to assess their equipment and network. If current infrastructure is found to be lacking, additional hardware or software must be added prior to EHR implementation.
Once the necessary infrastructure is in place, you can prepare for the integration of the software into your organization’s workflow. There are a few elements to keep in mind as you complete this step in the implementation process, including:
Adapt your workflows to the new software; it should not be forced to fit within old, outdated systems.
If the new software is replacing a current system, ensure that a process is in place for transferring data to the new software.
Prepare for the new exchange of data by implementing measures to ensure compliance with privacy and security.
Did You Know? An EHR system is more than just a repository of patient health data. When utilized correctly and to its fullest potential, EHRs can transform the care experience for your residents. In fact, 75% of healthcare providers say that their EHR enables them to deliver better patient care, according to HealthIT.gov.
EHR Setup and Training
Setup and Training Anyone who has been to a doctor’s office within the past 10 years and watched a medical professional struggle to enter information into an EHR system knows that new software may not be welcomed with open arms. Given the current staffing crisis, employees have little time to train and adapt to a new system that, given past experience with technology, may be challenging and potentially glitchy.
Creating an In-House Implementation Team
The key to achieving staff buy-in and getting employees trained and acclimated to a new EHR system quickly is to create an in-house implementation team with a dedicated project manager. Although the software vendor will provide its own project manager, assigning the responsibility to a member of your staff is a critical step for several reasons.
Generally, software vendors will not have staff who have worked in skilled nursing facilities or who understand your day-to-day operations. Thus, while the focus of the vendor’s project manager is the software, your in-house PM will be focused on your residents and how any change in technology will affect them. Furthermore, your in-house implementation team should serve as “champions” of the new software and drivers of change management.
Successful change management is an essential aspect of software implementation. Creating an organized approach for transitioning to a new EHR system and adapting to its processes and procedures can serve to prepare your staff and make the change more palatable. Your implementation team should be responsible for creating a transition plan, communicating the plan and executing the necessary training.
The effectiveness of state-of-the-art EHR software depends upon proper use. Consider the following best practices within your training plan:
Include all areas of your organization in training, including the leadership team, nurses and general staff. Entice as many people as possible into training sessions to achieve full adoption of the system.
Create multiple avenues for training, including ample in-person and self-paced options.
Develop onboarding procedures for new employees that includes required training regardless of past experience. While a staff member may have experience with a particular software, training on your organization’s specific configuration will be necessary.
Provide staff with adequate tools and resources that can be accessed as needed for using the system.
Adopting new software can be a painful process for any organization. For SNFs still shell-shocked by COVID-19 and dealing with the resulting reductions in staff and occupancy, implementing an EHR system requires thorough planning and careful execution.
With a dedicated team of certified EHR trainers and implementers holding 20+ years of experience, Richter can help your organization increase efficiency, productivity, and profitability by leveraging the power of your EHR.